South Professor Works with Counselors Statewide to Build RAMP Designation
Posted on June 4, 2020 by Amber Day
Earlier this year, five schools in Alabama received the Recognized American School Counselor Association Model Program (RAMP) designation. These schools were honored at the Alabama School Counselor Awards Ceremony for making an exemplary commitment to their school counseling programs.
The 2020 RAMP schools in Alabama are Fairhope Elementary School, Fairhope Intermediate School, Foley Middle School, Helena Elementary School and Homewood Middle School. Until this year, Vestavia Hills Elementary was the only school in Alabama that ever met the criteria and earned the designation.
“I am so proud of our state and regional school counselors,” said Dr. Amy Upton, assistant professor in the USA College of Education and Professional Studies Department of Counseling and Instructional Sciences. “They are truly providing exceptional programs and services to the students they serve.”
Dr. Upton worked with the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama School Counselor Association to develop a statewide recognition program that is aligned with the RAMP process.
“In 2017, we formed a committee to help create a recognition program that aligns with the current ASCA National Model and the Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Model for Alabama Public Schools,” said Cindy Davis, who recently served as Madison City Schools counseling coordinator and grant administrator and Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction Liaison for the Alabama School Counselor Association. “Dr. Upton volunteered to serve on this committee, and her in-depth experience brought valuable insight into the creation of the Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction.”
The USA College of Education and Professional Studies hosted two sequential trainings this past year provided by the Alabama School Counselor Association to assist more school counselors in the region to pursue the RAMP designation.
"The Mobile region has seen a decade-long effort to more fully implement the ASCA National Model of Professional School Counseling," said Dr. James Stefurak, associate professor of counseling psychology and chair of the Department of Counseling and Instructional Sciences. "This model of practice emphasizes the Transformed role of counselors in schools who proactively deliver comprehensive services to students through their capacity for data-informed action, advocacy and consultation within the school. The RAMP award is a national recognition of our local school counselors' efforts in delivering data informed comprehensive school counseling programs and in becoming agents of change and empowerment for our students."
Upton worked with Patricia Davis, South alumna and intervention supervisor for Baldwin County Public Schools, to provide personalized training to counselors on how to implement ASCA Model programs and undertake the challenging application and documentation process of demonstrating that the schools are running comprehensive data informed counseling programs aligned with the ASCA National Model for School Counseling Programs.
“Dr. Amy Upton was a tremendous assistance to the schools in our school system achieving the RAMP Award,” Davis said. “Not only did she provide training for the school counselors who were initially interested in applying for the Program of Distinction Award, but she also volunteered to read the school counselors’ applications and provide feedback to them before the application was submitted to the Alabama School Counselor Association. She was available to answer questions that the school counselors may have had about the documents that needed to be uploaded, and she provided moral support and encouragement for each of them.”
Kate Welborn, a South graduate and counselor at Fairhope Elementary, worked closely with Upton to earn the RAMP recognition at her school.
“We could never have been successful without Dr. Upton and Ms. Davis coordinating our training opportunities,” Welborn said. “We would not have known where to even begin. Incidentally, Dr. Upton was also instrumental in helping us get trained for the RAVE bronze and RAVE silver awards, which we also earned. Working towards the RAVE awards helped us begin collecting the data and supporting documentation we would ultimately need for more rigorous forms of recognition.”
The RAMP designation process allows schools to reevaluate current programs and plan for the future.
“I believe any school counselor whose goal is to provide the best for students should learn about and apply for RAMP,” said Dianna Wolchina, a South graduate and counselor at Fairhope Elementary. “The application process itself was some of the best professional development in that we had to dissect our counseling program piece by piece. This confirmed the exhaustion we feel throughout each year, but most importantly, it revealed areas needing our focus. We realized that we were spreading ourselves too thin and felt like we were in survival mode all the time. Looking at our program through ASCA’s eyes helped us pinpoint exactly where our focus should be. Now our program is streamlined and much more effective.”
The RAMP designation, awarded for aligning with the criteria in the ASCA National Model, recognizes schools committed to delivering a data-informed school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment. Since the program’s inception, nearly 1,000 schools have been designated as RAMP recipients.
“This year’s RAMP honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, ASCA assistant director. “These schools used data to drive their program development and implementation so all students can achieve success. RAMP designation distinguishes these schools and encourages school counselors nationwide to strive for excellence.”